Two weeks ago, Warriors fans were sent scrambling to their dictionaries in search of the meaning of “subluxation.” Top dog and reigning Finals Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry just suffered a shoulder injury, and followers of the blue and yellow wanted to ascertain how the unfortunate development would affect the Warriors’ playoff hopes. They were expecting the worst in the face of his absence; even at his sharpest, he could not lift the defending champions past mediocrity more than four-fifths into the season. In other words, the foreseeable future looked bleak.
Fast forward to the new year, and the Warriors have surprisingly stayed relatively competitive with Curry on the sidelines. The other day, he was again relegated to mere spectator in their fourth straight victory, which, not coincidentally, all occurred at the Chase Center. For some reason, they’re close to invincible at home, with their 16-2 slate edging the Bucks for the best in the National Basketball Association. On the other hand, they’ve resembled deer in the headlights on the road; they’ve managed to claim only three of 19 contests away from familiar confines.
Make no mistake. The Warriors are progressing sans Curry. They’re far from efficient on offense, although they seem to have learned how to spread the load to Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson during his convalescence. Where they’ve really improved, though, is on defense; with Draymond Green overseeing sets from the middle and ensuring that coverage doesn’t wane, they’ve scratched and clawed their way to wins. Against the Blazers the other day, their outstanding coverage led to triumph off a 14-point turnaround on the payoff period.
For the Warriors, here’s the good news: Curry is scheduled to be reevaluated by the end of the week, and his return to action should be sooner than later. They must be hoping that the experience they gained while he could do no more than wave towels at the end of the bench will do them good in the second half of their 2022-23 campaign. Otherwise, not even their outstanding effort in front of diehard supporters can prevent them from a date with disappointment. They may have the most expensive roster, but if they don’t get significantly better, they won’t be able to do anything when the Larry O’Brien Trophy is pried from their cold dead hands.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.